Thakkar, M.P. (J)
What normal guidelines are to be followed so as to identify the "rarest of rare cases" formula for imposing death sentence?
The principle of `rarest of rare cases' came up for consideration and elaboration in this case . It was a case of extraordinary brutality. On account of a family feud Machhi Singh the main accused in the case, along with eleven accomplices, in course of a single night, conducted raids on a number of villages killing seventeen people, men, women and children for no reason other than they were related to one Amar Singh and his sister Piyaro Bai.
It was observed by the court that the community as a whole may endorse capital punishment when its collective conscience is so shocked that it will expect the Judiciary to give death penalty irrespective of their personal opinions. Thus the Court framed guidelines mentioned below
(1) Manner of Commission of Murder: When the murder is committed in an extremely brutal, grotesque, diabolical. revolting, or dastardly manner so as to arouse intense and extreme indignation of the community. For instance:
(2) Motive for Commission of murder: When the murder is committed for a motive which evince total depravity and meanness. For instance
(3) Anti Social or Socially abhorrent nature of the crime
(4) Magnitude of Crime: When the crime is enormous in proportion. For instance when multiple murders say of all or almost all the members of a family or a large number of persons of a particular caste, community, or locality, are committed.
(5) Personality of Victim of murder: When the victim of murder is
The circumstances of the case do reveal that it was a cold- blooded murder and the victims were helpless and undefended. The offence committed was of an exceptionally depraved and heinous character. The court uphold the view concurrently taken by the Sessions Court and the High Court that extreme penalty of death requires to be imposed on appellants (1) Machhi Singh (2) Kashmir Singh son of Arjan Singh (3) Jagir Singh. Accordingly the death sentence was confirmed. Benefit of reasonable doubt was given to Mohinder Singh as there was lacuna in the evidence that he was in possession of the rifle.
“We are of the opinion that insofar as these three appellants are concerned the rarest of rare cases rule prescribed in Bachan Singh's case (Supra) is clearly attracted and sentence of death is called for. We are unable to persuade ourselves that a sentence of imprisonment for life will be adequate in the circumstances of the crime. We therefore fully uphold the view concurrently taken by the Sessions Court and the High Court that extreme penalty of death requires to be imposed on appellants (1) Machhi Singh (2) Kashmir Singh son of Arjan Singh (3) Jagir Singh. We accordingly confirm the death sentence imposed on them and dismiss their appeals.”